`Harold & Kumar' offers a satirical treat

July 30, 2004|By Knight Ridder/Tribune

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle

Rated R; Score **1/2

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle is for anyone who ever inhaled and isn't ashamed to admit it. The plot follows New Jersey roommates racked by post-toke munchies. Their quest will require Harold and Kumar to overcome daunting obstacles, including a deformed tow truck driver named Freakshow, a rabid raccoon, racist cops and an off-the-wall Doogie Howser.

Those with a low tolerance for toilet humor, or characters exclaiming, "Dude, I'm so high right now!" have been warned.

What makes Harold & Kumar the most subversive comedy of the year, however, has nothing to do with doper antics. In a sly, almost whimsical fashion, director Danny Leiner (Dude, Where's My Car?) deflates ethnic stereotypes by making his two Asian-American leads (Kal Penn and John Cho) smarter and better adjusted than everyone else around them. Harold & Kumar satirizes racial prejudice with a laid-back glee. In their formidable quest for junk food, Harold and Kumar end up redefining what the all-American protagonists of Hollywood movies should look like - and prove this comedy is not quite as brain-dead as it originally appeared.

`Thunderbirds'

Rated PG; Score **

Making a live-action version of Thunderbirds is like rounding out the edges on a Picasso painting to render it more realistic. After all, the appeal of this cult kiddie show from the 1960s was the eerie and expressionless look of the rocket-jockey puppets. And here, the primary characters are relegated to the background in favor of a sentimental coming-of-age story. The Tracy men - ace pilots who keep the world safe as the International Rescue team - spend most of the movie helplessly marooned on a disabled satellite.

It's up to the untested youngest son, Alan (Brady Corbet) and his pals to defeat Hood (Sir Ben Kingsley), who wants revenge on the Tracys.

With its child heroes, bloodless battles and wild gadgetry, Thunderbirds is clearly patterned on the Spy Kids franchise. It's clean and cheerful entertainment, blithely piggybacking on a beloved classic.

Knight Ridder/Tribune

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